Hydration and Electrolyte Balance

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 21 2014


Much is made in most health and fitness about proper hydration. I think that much of this is bubkis. However, getting the proper amount of what is commonly known as “electrolytes” is absolutely critical to your overall health and your CrossFit performance especially.

For most folks, simply eating Paleo and getting a good variety of foods will do the trick. I’m also a fan of adding iodized salt in the mix. For folks that are doing a good amount of hard training, some simple supplements might be necessary based on your individual biological requirements. For years, I’ve recommended Endurolyte tablets. As it’s getting hotter outside, these make more and more sense and folks report good results. There are some other more pricey options out there, but they depend on how much your working out, how much you naturally sweat, and whether or not you really want to take the time to mess around with them.

Have any of you tried Endurolytes or other supps?

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140527]

Training Through Injury

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 20 2014


When it comes to dealing with injuries, there are a lot of basic things you can do if you catch it early. They differ significantly based on if it’s a soft tissue issue or a connective tissue issue. If it’s soft tissue, this means you feel it somewhere in the “meaty” part of the muscle and it’s probably severe soreness, a strain or a tear. First thing to do is talk to a coach who can vector you into how severe it is (unless you have a bone sticking out or are in severe pain, then don’t talk to me, go to the emergency room).

For soreness, we want to make sure we’re just doing the fundamentals of Paleo + Sleep + adequate rest days as the first step. We then want to look at maybe subbing around movements that stress that specific muscle. For strains and tears, we want to get you to see some kind of medical professional (chiro or ortho) and get their opinion on it’s severity before we move forward. We can work around this stuff, but it requires a great deal more time and effort on both our parts.

For connective tissue, the first thing we want to do is DRAMATICALLY lower our expectations for recovery time. Coach Christopher Sommers says that connective tissue usually takes 10x longer to heal than soft tissue injuries. So if you’re feeling issues in your joints, you need to address it QUICKLY so it doesn’t get worse. First thing to do is talk to a coach. They’ll probably tell you to rest and if you’re in pain, rest and ice. Once you can move without pain (and I just mean walk and do some basic bodyweight movements pain free) than we can try to sub around the injury. If the injury isn’t healing by subbing movements to minimize further damage, we need to get you to a pro ASAP and stop you from doing classes.

We can definitely still do personal training around injury. I personally have a TON of hours training athletes with injuries. I like doing this as it offers a different kind of challenge in designing programming and helping with motivation. If you’re banged up and you’re interested in some personal training with any of our coaches, you can email info@potomaccrossfit.com.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140520]

Don’t Listen to Experts

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 19 2014


“Rashness is one of the properties of illness – outlaws that we are – and it is rashness that we need in reading Shakespeare. It is not that we should doze in reading him, but that, fully conscious and aware, his fame intimidates and bores, and all the views of all the critics dull in us that thunderclap of conviction which, if an illusion, is still so helpful an illusion, so prodigious a pleasure, so keen a stimulus in reading the great. Shakespeare is getting flyblown: a paternal government might well forbid writing about him, as they put his monument at Stratford beyond the reach of scribbling fingers. With all this buzz of criticism about, one may hazard one’s conjectures privately, making one’s notes in the margin; but, knowing that someone has said it before, or said it better, the zest is gone. Illness, in its kingly sublimity sweeps all that aside and leaves nothing but Shakespeare and oneself. What with his overweening power and our overweening arrogance, that barriers go down, the knots Run smooth, the brain rings and resounds with Lear or Macbeth, and even Coleridge himself squeaks like a distant mouse.” -On Being Ill, Virginia Woolf

What Woolf is trying to say, I think, is “don’t listen to experts.” This is for two reasons: first, you need to exercise your wits otherwise you’ll either be bamboozled. Second, if you make it instinctive to listen to experts, you’ll lose confidence in yourself as a thinking being. On the flip side of this as a CrossFit coach, you pay me to be an expert at CrossFit and you need to listen to me to make progress.

But as a consumer, you need to not believe anything I say unless and until you see results. If you’re not seeing results there are only three options: either I’m hustling you, I’m wrong, or you’re not doing what I told you to do. If the first is true, stop paying me. If the second, please tell me so I can fix my model. If the third, either ask for help or try harder.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140513]

Find What’s Right For You

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 18 2014


Just like we scale workouts based on your level, we also scale our versions of the Paleo Diet. If you’ve done our Paleo Challenge, you know we take a very simple approach to this. If you’re primary goal is weight loss, then you need to take in enough starchy carbs to support your CrossFitting, but no more. This usually equates to a minimum of one fist sized portion of starch in your post-WOD meal. For folks that want weight loss and performance gains, minimum two fist sized portions with meals. One of these portions post-WOD. For folks that are primarily focused on performance, the minimum is three fist sized portions.

This is a pretty straightforward rule of thumb and one which works for a lot of people. But this is the minimum and the determiner is how well it’s working! Some of our athletes and I have been messing with a high and much more specific quantitative measure of their starchy carb intake through the Eat to Perform plan. We have all seen significant gains in our work output and energy levels and no increase in bodyfat. This is very much a diet plan that fits into the “Rxd” category of athlete, but it’s good info for all athletes as many people think that if one piece of starch a day is good for weight loss, than no starch ever must be perfect!

The key is finding what’s right for you, and we’re happy to help with this. You can talk to a coach at the WOD, you can post to comments, or you can email me or Maria or any coach you’d like to setup a nutritional consult to help dial you in.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140512]

Practice Patience

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 15 2014


I often wonder if there’s a way to measure exactly and precisely how fit you’d be if you hadn’t CrossFitted for however long you’ve been working out with us. Much of this is not really focused on gaining fitness so much as avoiding sickness and disability.

A lot of folks lament how little progress they think they are making or their lack of ability to get one thing they are fixated on (Muscle UpPullup, etc). I appreciate the fact that folks want to get better, that’s not annoying at all. “Playing hungry” is a good trait in an athlete. But some degree of patience is also a good trait.

Something that might aid in that patience is taking stock of where you are right now versus where you would be if you had just kept doing what you were doing. Eating a bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a nice low-fat pasta dish for dinner was killing you slowly. Doing some 10k training plan was adding to your cortisol load and stressing your body in ways that were only taking you from bad to worse.

So even if you’re only coming a couple of times a month, I think the fact that you’ve got that Pullup or Muscle Up or sub 8:00 Rxd Fran in your sights is a whole lot better than where you would have been otherwise

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140429]

Basic Play into WODs

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 14 2014


Playing Music and CrossFit: One of my absolute favorite essays on education is “Lockhart’s Lament” about how bad the current public and (most) private school systems teach math. The gist is that you couldn’t really design a worse curriculum to get kids to learn and get excited about learning math. Lockhart asks us to imagine if we taught music like we teach math: learn the notes in elementary school, the scales in middle school, and organizing music notation into musical pieces in high school. Maybe by college you’d get to pick up a recorder and actually hear and play music!

We try to teach you CrossFit similar to how kids play learn music. We give you some basics to play with (the squat, the Deadlift, the Pushup, etc). We then let you play, i.e., we have you do our WODs. We give you some instruction, but we want you to actively work on the movements by practicing and having fun doing it. For some people it’s hard to do CrossFit this way. Everything is about answering a question with one right answer and/or getting a grade. While we do compare your abilities using time and load, just like in music some folks are going to be better at some things than others, but everybody’s got their strengths and weaknesses.

So have fun playing and learning to play CrossFit, and don’t focus too much on your “grade” or always getting the right answer.

[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140428]

Pay Yourself First

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 13 2014

Investing in CrossFit: We’ve talked about looking at CrossFit in terms of return on investment. You invest time, effort and money, you get health in return. A similar facet of this is just describing your health and fitness in terms of savings. A great way to look at savings is “pay yourself first” and I’m a big proponent of this.

If you keep socking away a little bit of cash here and a little cash there than sooner or later you’re sitting on a pretty good stash. Let’s say that’s $100/month. If you do that every month like clockwork for a year you’re sitting on $1200. Now some folks really get on their own case if they miss a day here or miss a day there. But you have to look at the aggregate. If you miss one month of savings, you’ve only cut out 8.4% ($100/$1200) of what you’re investment would have been.

We want you to come as much as possible and we’ve set up our payment structure to reward those that come more often (per class fee for an unlimited membership with a 12 month contract is our cheapest option). But if you have to miss a class or two, or you have to take a vacation, travel for work, or are out sick, that’s not the worst thing in the world. If you keep coming in, you keep socking away your investment in your health.

Don’t just give up if you have a bad week or a bad month. Just keep coming in and keep investing in your fitness and you’ll see that gangsta roll getting bigger and bigger.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140422]

Health and Longevity

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 12 2014


“Don’t talk about ‘progress’ in terms of longevity, safety, or comfort before comparing zoo animals to those in the wilderness.” -Taleb

This is the most succinct explanation of the Paleo/CrossFit model that I’ve seen. I have been putting statistics on zoo animals in my Paleo Challenge briefs for a while now because they are staggering. For instance wild Asian elephants live for THREE TIMES LONGER than their relatives in zoos.

By inhibiting animals natural freedom and hence their natural instincts, activities and diet, no zoo animal can be called as healthy as their wild counterparts. We try to recreate some of our more “natural” conditions within Potomac CrossFit. We eat the way we’re designed to eat, we change our physical stimulus frequently, and we are all a part of a pack to one degree or another. But we’re definitely not as healthy as our hunter/gatherer ancestors in terms of the type of chronic disorders that are killing the majority of the western population.

I like to just keep this in mind the next time I sit in front of a computer for several hours at a stretch and meditate on how to eliminate the stuff that’s causing my slow march towards a non-infectious disease driven death. Standing desk is on the list, what’s on yours?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140408]

Shaping Systems

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 11 2014


“Scientific reasoning is a kind of dialogue between the possible and the actual, between what might be and what in fact is the case.” -Peter Medaware, Nobel Laureate (1960), “Induction and Intuition in Scientific Thought”

Probably the most interesting thing for me and training people in CrossFit is the process that goes into shaping systems (both programming, coaching, and business) and determining how closely our predictions match with the results.

The most fascinating (and potentially most fragile) is the role of what could generally be called “creativity”. While these systems have all been molded by an evolutionary process as we make subtle shifts in how we coach, run classes, program, etc, there are also “eureka moments” when things come together in such a way to make significant improvements. Examples of these would include our strength training periodization, gymnastic strength EMOTMs, Paleo Diet adoption, or even our Free Class -> Foundations -> Membership pipeline. Almost nobody in CrossFit was doing any of these things when we decided to give them a try (in the case of EMOTMs, literally nobody http://journal.crossfit.com/2011/02/volume-training-for-goats.tpl).

As we come to the end of our first year in Potomac 2.0 (and our sixth year in business) it’s interesting to think about what would have happened if we hadn’t done these things and to try to predict what the next big things will come about in our next six years in business. Any ideas?


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140407]

Am I Wrong?

Uncategorized | Posted by Kayla Castro
Aug 08 2014


“Just so we’re clear, either people want to do 5/3/1, or they don’t. I really want to help people, but if they won’t take my advice there’s nothing I can do. That’s fine by me. I don’t fight the battles. I just don’t fucking care.” -Jim Wendler

There’s definitely been an evolution in my approach as a coach in terms of getting athletes to “buy in” to our methodology. At first, because we were so far outside of common fitness practices there was a lot of debating, haranguing, etc. Now after doing this for close to six years and having our model tested again and again and come out with similar astonishing results, I’ve definitely shifted my focus to helping those that want to be helped and not wasting my time with folks that want to pick a fight or score debate points.

While having a Talmudic discussion on resistant starch or soaking lentils can be informative to both sides, at the end of the day the baseline model of Paleo + CrossFit is what 99% of folks need. If you want to tell me I’m wrong, the easiest way to do that is to try what I’m telling you to do, then compare it with what you want to do. Whichever model comes out with the most profoundly accurate, measurable and repeatable results is the best. But arguing about it is a pretty big waste of time as there are a lot of people that want to get fitter and need the fundamentals of Paleo + CrossFit explained and reinforced to get there, and that’s my core business.


[Originally posted Potomac CrossFit 140401]